There’s no doubt Vader was the most athletic big man in the history of professional wrestling, and 1993 was arguably the biggest year of his career. In Timeline: The History of WCW, the man they call Vader takes us through what was a turbulent year in World Championship Wrestling.
Vader begins by talking with host Sean Oliver about how he felt the WCW World Heavyweight Championship was the top world championship in the business.
He also talked about his run with Harley Race, who was his manager in that period. Race always drove, Vader said, and pushed the gas to the floor and would eventually push through the car’s governor at 115 mph.
“The thing that impressed me about Harley, I was the world champion, but he was my teacher and mentor, but in front of the guys, he’d rarely, if ever, instruct me, but on the road, (he’d bring it up).”
Vader talked about working with Ron Simmons, how explosive he was, then goes on to talking about working with Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), where he might not have been the biggest man in the ring, but he was certainly the most creative and 99.99999 percent of the time was the smartest man in the ring, and maybe even in the building.
“In my opinion, Mick is a wrestling savant,” Vader said.
Next they talk about Erik Watts. Vader says Watts was tall and strong like his father, but just was missing something. He feels he would’ve been a great middle of the card guy.
The “White Castle of Fear” is brought up next, and what Vader recalls of the big shoot involving Sting coming out to Vader’s mountain layer to accept a match with him at SuperBrawl. They talk about the match and how Sting had a blade on his finger that ended up cutting Vader badly in the ear.
They talk about Bill Watts being relieved of his booking duties and Ole Anderson and Eric Bischoff being promoted. Vader did not get along well with Anderson, who did not want him to attempt his now famous moonsault, but he has nothing bad to say about Bischoff.
They discuss Davey Boy Smith joining WCW following his termination by the WWF for receiving human growth hormone from a pharmacy in England. They discuss how someone who was fired for drugs in WWF could land so quickly in another major promotion. Vader talks about how he never had a problem because everything he put in his body was legal, that his doctor wasn’t a mark doctor, but the same one he took his kid to. Vader also talks about he was born at seven months, two weeks and how he was more than 10 pounds. Holy cow.
Oliver and Vader discuss how having the NWA World Heavyweight Championship diminished, what was at that time called the WCW International Title, and how he and Ric Flair did not exactly get along in 1993 with Flair’s decisions as booker.
Jim Ross was let go by WCW and Vader talks about how big of a deal this was for him, because Ross was so behind the Vader character. They also discuss the now-infamous WCW Saturday Night match between Vader and Cactus Jack from April 1993.
Vader also was very big in Japan, and he discusses going there, and how WCW didn’t like it and eventually restructured his contract and gave him more money and more years to regain those rights. He also chats with Oliver about how Sid Vicious was considered for the Vader gimmick at one point, but then they saw him wrestle. Eventually, the two formed a tag team called The Masters of the Power Bomb.
WCW’s long-term television tapings are discussed next, where it would give up title changes months in advance and the problems that presented in terms of injuries, contracts, etc. Vader notes how the crowds at Disney were not wrestling crowds, so they needed to change their format a bit, entertain for that crowd, but they didn’t do it.
At Beach Blast, Vader twice attempted a moonsault on Smith, missing the first and hitting the second. Oliver asks if Vader tried it out before debuting it in a match. Nope.
“I just did it,” Vader said. Wow.
They also talk about business going down, when WCW drew just 800 fans at the Omni in Atlanta. Vader talks about how he wasn’t paid much differently no matter what the house was.
The infamous stabbing incident between Arn Anderson and Sid also was talked about. Vader discusses Sid doing a zombie walk toward him with blood squirting out of his midsection. Vader stuck his thumb in the wound to stop it and stayed with him until the paramedics came.
The main event of the interview is the big match at Starrcade 1993 that featured Vader against Ric Flair in Flair’s hometown of Charlotte, with the stipulation being Flair must retire if he loses. Vader says Dusty Rhodes told him he was supposed to get the title back at SuperBrawl 1994, but Flair took over the book and that never happened. This was the part of the interview I was really looking forward to, because this was such a great match, but they really skipped right over it when much more time was given to events that Vader had nothing to do with. This was really disappointing.
Overall, this commentary wasn’t as interesting as many other videos from Kayfabe Commentaries. Although Vader was a major figure in WCW in 1993, holding the world title until the very end of the year, he didn’t go too far into much of anything. What was most interesting is when he went off topic and talked about things not having to do with 1993 WCW — including his thoughts on the state of wrestling in Japan and about a long conversation he had with Reid Flair not long before his death. He rarely opens up on many subjects, which is something you look for when watching these features.
If you were a fan of WCW in this era, this might be interesting to you. But if not, you probably won’t learn too much that you didn’t already know.
MORE VADER STORIES
- Mar. 7, 2022: Vader to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame
- Feb. 6, 2021: Brace yourself for the tale of the man they called Vader
- June 20, 2018: “Vader” Leon White dead at age 63
- Jan. 24, 2010: Ringside with Vader a solid shoot
- Jan. 6, 2000: Vader rejuvenated in Japan